Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, Claire

Claire turned two last Sunday. We got to see her open her gifts at a family cook-out. Depsite the fact that Claire's dad despises Dora the Explore, someone actually got her a Dora activity book. Hmmmm....wonder who that was.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Nostalgia?...or Insanity?

So, a few of my new friends down here are big 'canners'...aka they are really into canning salsa, homemade ketchup, tomato juice, jelly, etc. I had forgotten how good canned tomato juice was until Arlene gave me a couple of cans the last couple of winters. Nick and I couldn't believe how much better our chili tasted with the home-canned tomato juice; so, we would save our precious few cans of it for 'special days.'

After we moved to the country this past spring, we decided to put a few tomato plants out (well, we put other vegetables out too, but honestly the tomatoes are the only thing that we actually harvested besides a few green peppers).

A few weeks ago, me and two friends made plans to can tomato juice. When I was growing up, mom used this tomato juicer contraption called a Squeezo; so, I got onto ebay (what I like to call 'the digital attic' where you can find all crazy things from your the book "Little Visits from God," an Ethan Allen trundle bed set, etc.), and I started bidding on Squeezo tomato juicers. I'm glad I did, because it saved us a ton of time compared to the hand-sieve style that you can also get!

Anyways, it's very sad when you can tomato juice. You have buckets and buckets of tomatoes, and you get, like, 6 quarts out of the deal! But we finished the job, and I've actually canned twice since: once with my sister Kori (she'll not visit me again in August when the tomatoes are ripe!) and again today I finished up the last of the tomatoes. There actually might be more, but at this point the garden is so overgrown with weeds that I'm giving up rescuing anymore.

After three hours of work and a couple of buckets of tomatoes, here is my bountiful harvest today:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Weekend Guests

Some of you know this, and some of you don't, but I LOVE playing cards. I have memories of Karen and I playing epic games of "Speed" sitting in her bedroom on the reversible blanket with the sheep on it that she received for Christmas one year. We could play for hours and hours.

As an adult, I still love to play cards, but Nick won't play with me. On the rare occasion that he agrees, he makes it so entirely miserable that I 'throw in the cards' after just one round.

My aunts, however, come to my rescue a few times a year. They come and visit and we play, once again, epic rounds of Shanghai Rummy and Speed until three or four in the morning. The day before we play we catcall each other all day leaving each other voicemails and eamils on how we're going to "kick your butt at cards" that night. The catcalling is just as much fun as the card-playing sometimes.

Gail and Stacy came to play cards a few weeks ago. We live in the country in Shelby County, Illinois...which means there's no one nearby. Gail was appalled that I haven't been up blinds yet in the house; however, I don't want to put any up until our new windows are installed later this fall. So, after complaining the first morning that the sun woke her up, I dug through supplies brought home from my frequent hotel stays while working for John Deere and pulled out a mask courtesy of some hotel somewhere.

Gail and Stacy, thanks for making the drive and coming to visit last month. And, next time, I am SO going to kick your butts at cards!!

A life-changing purchase...

When we first moved into this house, we had big plans for the basement. A second kitchen, a huge storeroom, etc. Because of our big plans, we had originally planned on holding off for a few years since windows, landscaping, siding, etc. needed to come first. However, with temperatures in the 90's over the last month, Nick and I kept noticing that the basement never got over 70 degrees; so, we decided it would be a better move to go ahead and put carpet in the basement so that we could make it more of a family room in the meantime. I think it was one of the better decisions we've made in this remodeling process!

Basement before:

Basement after:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Introducing a New Member of the Family!!!

No, it's not what you're thinking...we're not expecting. Instead, a stray cat came to the Nick's parents' shop a couple of months ago. After it stuck around for a while, nick decided to bring it home with him. I honestly didn't think the cat would last long at our house.

With two dogs and a barn full of who knows what critters, I thought the little kitten would be gone in a matter of days. However, this cat has proved to be smarter than the average cat. Within a couple of days, she learned where the dogs' boundary is for their underground fence. Slowly and carefully, for the last month she has gotten closer and closer to the line. The dogs stand for hours on end at the line waiting for the cat to come out of the barn. They stand so close to their boundary that their collars are beeping at them constantly...emitting their subtle warning that they will get zapped if they take a step closer. As a result, Nick has had to change the batteries in their collar about once a week. This free stray cat is costing us big bucks at this point!

Finally, last week, the cat came across the line into the dogs' territory. After six weeks of flirting from the other side of the boundary, the dogs were so used to her that she can come right up to them now. Sometimes, yes, they get a little riled up about her and she runs to the other side of the boundary into her own protected territory, but otherwise, it seem like the standoff at the McCormick corral might be over for a while.

By the way, we've named the cat "Kendall Gail."....Kendall because we think we still need a Kendall in Illinois, and Gail after my ornery aunt. Plus, it kind of goes Crystal Gail...or Kendall Gill. For those who are upset that we didn't use their names in naming our pets, we're planning on adding to the family a "Kimmie Ruth" and a "Kori Anastacia" sometime soon!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Post Coming Soon....

Once again, I am sorry for not posting lately. Although I do have lots to post! After my Apple Mac that was only five months old crashed for the THIRD time two weeks ago, I took a day of vacation and drove down to St. Louis and returned it. I ordered a new HP and it just came; so, I promise I will get pictures posted yet from Kim and Scott's visit and also from my visitors last weekend.

Sorry....Nick says if there was such a thing as 'bad karma' that I have it when it comes to purchases! I have so many things go wrong with things I buy!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Mother's Day Shopping Trip

So, I'm totally being lazy and letting my friend Sara

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Leo & Ava

It all started one night when we were talking about movies instead of playing Bunco on Girls' Bunco night.

I mentioned that I loved any movie that was based on a Jane Austen book. I said that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED "Pride and Prejudice" and that's when THE question was asked: "Which do you like better - the 2-hour or the 6-hour version?" I thought, "Here's someone that speaks my language." "Either," I replied, "It depends on my mood."

At that point, I thought about mentioning the fact that PBS was beginning a two-month Masterpiece Theater marathon of Jane Austen movies, but I was worried that I would be wearing my dorkdom a little too much on my sleeve for people I had just met. And then, she said, "Did you know that PBS is beginning a Jane Austen Masterpiece Theater marathon beginning this Sunday night?" I became a fan right then and there!

When she brought me a T-shirt from Girls State that said "A Woman's Place is In the House...AND In the Senate" I became a diehard. And, when I found out her husband read Ann Coulter books, I threw in the towel. They had no choice...they were going to have to be my friends for life. :)

So, when Sarah called and wanted me to not only take six-month pictures of her little guy, Leo, but also do three-month pictures of her lovely sister Laura's new baby girl Ava, I was thrilled. (sorry for the run-on sentence!!!)

Sarah and Laura, congratulations on your new babies. I'm so excited to see Leo and Ava grow over the years, and I couldn't have been more honored that you entrusted me to capture their budding personalities!

Below are a few of my favorites. Click here to see a few more of my favorites on my site.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, Daddy! We love you! Colby & Kelly

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I'm sorry that it's been so long since I've blogged. It's been a busy last couple of weeks, but Nick's out of town the next couple of days; so, I promise to make up for it!

Kim and Scott and Jacob made the circle tour of the midwest a couple of weeks ago and visited Manito, Kelly and Nick in Windsor, Ben and Kori in Indiana, and then back to central Illinois for our cousin's wedding. We had a blast with them, and I think the country in Windsor is quieter than it must be in Manito or in Minnesota, because Jacob's average 20-minute naps stretched into two hours while he was here!!

Here are some of the pix from their visit!

Jacob loves looking at things while hanging out upside down!

Clean and happy after a bath.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Strawberry Jam

Several weeks ago I was invited to make strawberry jam with a couple of my new friends, Allison and Jen, that are from Nick's hometown. I wasn't sure how it would turn out! However, when we got done we tested our domestic talents on some hot biscuits, and Alliston's little girl Gabby seemed to think that the jam tasted just fine!!

Visiting with Good Friends

Last night Nick and I had the chance to catch up with old friends, Brea and Ryan Harms. They were in Illinois for a relative's wedding and snuck over to Champaign to buy all of the Chief-ware they could since it's no longer allowed to used in anything promoting the University of Illinois. So, we met up in Mattoon for supper.

For those of you who don't know, Brea was my intern many moons ago one summer at John Deere. It was through her and her husband Ryan that Nick and I, as Nick and Ryan were frat brothers in college at Illinois. They also had their little guy Carter with them, who bore the slow service at the restaurant much better than I did!!

PS - Brea is also an avid reader of all of the Rankin Girls' blogs!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Women of Faith

Angie and I both needed a weekend away...her from three young boys and me from the daily, last weekend we headed to St. Louis for the Women of Faith conference. She had gone last year, but it was the first time for me. It was neat hearing Sheila Walsh and Marilyn Meberg talk, but my absolute favorite was Anita Renfroe, the Christian comedian. I had to buy her DVD with the "Mom Song" on it, which is 2 minutes and 55 seconds of every saying that moms use (think "make your bed, because I said so, get off the phone, etc.) set to Williams Overture. We had tears rolling down our cheeks. We had a great time!

Meeting up with Erin for supper one night.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Father's Day Weekend

This weekend Karen and I and our families met Dad in Springfield for lunch and a trip to the new Lincoln museum. It was a lot of fun, and here are a few of the pix!

Dad and the girls next to Lincoln's childhood cabin at the museum.

Ella is pretty proud of her band.

Emma really wanted her picture taken with Lincoln's family.

Anna dressed up in "Martha's Attic"...the kids play area.

Emma looks like a "Little House on the Prairie" girl.

Ella in an apron in the old-fashioned kitchen.

Grandma Rankin with the girls.

Karen with her girls.

Nick and Dad waiting for us girls to come out of "Martha's Attic."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Outside of the House....

Well, I spoke to Kori this afternoon and this is kind of how the conversation went....

Kelly: Kim requested pictures of the outside of the house on the blog.
Kori: Yeah, I saw that.
Kelly: I was hoping that no one would want to see the outside of the house and would be happy with the pix from the inside.
Kori: It's not that your house is bad, Kelly.
Kelly: I know it's just, well....
Kori: Dated?
Kelly: Yes, Brady Bunch'ish.

So, here are the pictures of the outside, but please imagine it with the new windows that will go in later this fall, new siding (taking votes here...either tan with black shutters or a muted olive green with black shutters), and new landscaping!

Please note that these pictures are from before we bought it...I haven't really taken any since, but besides the weeds getting cleaned up and many of the bushes being torn out, it's pretty much the same!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The kitchen is in....most of it.

First, let me say that I starting feeling a little guilty about getting so anxious and grumpy about not having a kitchen. We get so used to these running water...and then I remembered that I had it better than 90% of the world and I started feeling a little guilty. So, now that I've confessed to the guilt, I do have to say that I am glad to have the kitchen back. Here are some of the pix from yesterday and today.

While unpacking, Nick came across this gift from his brother and sister-in-law. It came with a grilling kit that they gave him for Christmas. So, he modeled some of his favorite kitchen features for you....the microwave, the sink, and the best one being the running water, which we finally got today!